Right after my husband Reggie passed, several widows in my church approached me to express their condolences. They shared their stories, and often their pain, in an effort to connect and show me that I was not alone. I appreciated the love they expressed in their efforts to comfort me. I know they were trying to help. Truth be told though, I wasn’t ready.
Reggie died so suddenly that I wasn’t ready for the W-word (widow), at least not in association with me. Everything in my psyche screamed it was too soon. Reggie and I married just two years earlier. We were in baby mode—trying to conceive. My focus was on wife and mother. Wife was the W-word that I wanted to embrace. Widow just did not compute.
Consequently, as much as I appreciated their hearts, it didn’t help. I did not find solace or comfort in their words. Instead, the women who helped me most after Reggie died were a group with whom I shared a different tragedy. As I mentioned above, Reggie and I were in baby mode, trying to add to our happy family. Unfortunately, six months after our first anniversary, tragedy struck in the form of our first miscarriage.
A few weeks earlier, I had joined BabyCenter, an online community about babies—having babies, raising babies, etc. On BabyCenter, I found a group of women who were trying to conceive after a miscarriage. We connected over our shared experience. Consequently, they witnessed my second miscarriage six months later and Reggie’s passing six weeks after that.
Because of this, these women understood that I was mourning more than just the passing of my dear husband. They witnessed as I mourned the passing of my family and letting go of my dream of being a mother—at least in that season of my life. A mourning that they understood all too well…
These women came alongside me and walked with me as I walked with them. Walking with them showed me several things:
1. Your Community
Having a loving community around you when you are grieving can make all the difference in the world. I was doubly blessed to have multiple loving communities around me including this group of miscarriage survivors and my church. Because of these communities, I never felt alone.
2. Your Support
Your strongest support may not come from the “expected” people in your community. Not only did other widows approach me shortly after Reggie’s passing, so did a few of the other ministers at my church. These ministers noted several recent widows in our congregation and suggested I start a widows support group. I couldn’t do it then. I just wasn’t ready to embrace widow as a role I played in my life.
My point here is that both other widows and these ministers in my church thought relationships with other widows would be beneficial to me, but this was not the case—at least not then. My blessing came from a different source. Be open to that and embrace your blessing wherever you find it.
3. Your Story
I watched the women in my miscarriage group experience unimaginable pain and adversity without giving up. Miscarriage knocked us down, but we refused to allow that to be the end of our stories. Each of these women, over 20, now has their rainbow baby. Many of them have had more than one. I am the only one who doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean that miscarriage has to be the end of my story—and neither does widowhood. It doesn’t matter the adversity. These women showed me that we don’t have to allow it to be the ending to our stories.
My goal in starting this blog is to open a dialogue about how to navigate the challenges, struggles, and obstacles we encounter in life, and ultimately, not allow these experiences to define us. These women are an awesome example of that. The example they shared with me, I now share with you.
- Where have you found help on your journey?
- Was it from an expected or unexpected source?
- What is the next chapter in your story?